Mexican restaurant opens airport location

MARTINSBURG — A Mexican restaurant has opened in the Altoona-Blair County Airport.

La Fiesta, which operates at 3312 Pleasant Valley Blvd. and in Ebensburg, opened its newest location on April 2 on the second floor of the airport terminal building in North Woodbury Township.

Unlike the Altoona and Ebensburg restaurants, the airport’s La Fiesta cannot sell alcoholic beverages within the dry municipality. But that could change when the airport authority asks township voters, during the May 21 primary, for permission to secure a liquor license for use only at the airport.

Because prior restaurants operating at the airport have struggled financially, the authority has offered its support for and interest in holding a non-transferable liquor license.

But based on election laws, it had to depend on supportive township residents to pursue a referendum by garnering signatures on petitions. The Blair County Board of Elections recently approved that referendum request.

For many years, airport leaders have wanted a restaurant within the terminal to accommodate waiting passengers, local patrons and private aircraft operators. But for lack of patrons, many restaurant operators haven’t been able to make enough money to stay in business.

The Mirror tried unsuccessfully to reach La Fiesta owner Jesus Herrara for comment on how he and his family will try to operate a successful restaurant at the airport.

Recently, airport Man­ag­er Tracy Plessinger told the authority that plans are being made to advertise for voter support in the May 21 primary. It’s also anticipated, the manager said, that township residents interested in the referendum will assist in campaigning for approval.

News of La Fiesta’s recent opening at the airport spread through online postings and according to Plessinger, the new dining option drew a dinner crowd during its first weekend that resulted in a 45-minute wait for service. On Monday night, walk-in patrons had their choice of seats.

The airport’s restaurant has been vacant since last year when Bold 322, operated by Bill Sell of Altoona, closed after a few months of operations.

In mid-2017, restaurant operator Roger Hull closed what was known as the Kitty Hawk restaurant. The airport authority tried, for a short time, to keep the restaurant open by hiring the employees while looking for a new operator. Unable to find one, it also closed the restaurant.

Before Hull took over Kitty Hawk, the restaurant was closed for about two years.

Hull had also asked the authority to consider pursuit of a liquor license as a way to help the restaurant bring in more money. But that 2016 pursuit didn’t garner the support to go forward.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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